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An Apparatus for In Situ Direct Shear Tests on Snow



F. Barpi,

Department of Structural, Geotechnical and Building Engineering,

Politecnico di Torino,

Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24,

10129 Torino,




The article presents a prototype of a new device for measuring the shear strength of snow specimens in situ. The resistance to sliding of a snow slab on a mountain slope is a key parameter in snow mechanics. The proposed apparatus acts as a sampler, to obtain a nearly undisturbed specimen, and as a shear box, similar to those used in the laboratory, with complete control of the test procedure. The main components of the device are a pneumatic system, for the application of normal and shear forces to the specimen, a real-time controller for commanding and recording of the data, and a computer. The apparatus can be carried to the place of the experiments and operated by a team of two researchers. Calibration and preliminary tests are also described in the article.